Last week, video for change activists convened at the University of Cape Town in South Africa to share and learn from one another on how video is being used to create social change in East and Southern Africa. Coming out the convening, we are pleased to announce the establishment of the Video-for-Change Africa (V4C Africa) network, the newest chapter in the global Video-for-Change network supported by WITNESS. We would also like to extend a special thank you to our partners, STEPS and SONKE, who co-organized the convening.
The participants represented more than 15 different projects using video-for-change on a wide range of issues including mobilizing communities to action, emergency responses in refugee camps, and sharing underreported human rights abuses in conflict zones. As a video activist, it was exciting for me to see how social change is being made at all levels using video, influencing everyone from small communities to policy-makers. All of the groups in attendance presented their incredible methodologies and processes for creating films and sharing them with their target audiences.
One great example is FilmAid-Kenya, an organization creating videos for refugees living in Kenyan refugee camps that respond to urgent issues emerging around them. Another example is the Association for Progressive Communications– South Africa, a group working on digital storytelling with grassroots groups to develop communities and further individual’s rights.
As the convening came to a close, I felt as though I had personally learned quite a bit from the other participants. Many of us have the same strengths, but also face the same challenges. For example, many video activists routinely conduct trainings, share materials, distribute films and organize major events such as film festivals. However, many organizations struggle to create an effective archiving process and lack film equipment or staff members with editing skills.
As a group, we discussed best practices and identified collective gaps and needs. In addition to the gaps identified above, we also listed developing training and best practices around filming with cell phones. The group also discussed the need for additional equipment for filming, archiving, editing and screening videos.
So with this, the Video-for-Change Africa Network is born! Leaving Cape Town, the network members are determined to continue sharing knowledge amongst one another on how to use video to create social change in Africa. I am looking forward to building a space for the founding members to remain in touch and beginning address our challenges through building new skills and sharing best practices.
To begin we will be creating an online home for the community with through a Facebook page, an email list and sharing materials using Google Drive. In addition, participants will begin online mentorships as we plan future in-person trainings and collaborative projects. We look forward to strengthening the V4C Africa network and widening opportunities for collaboration as we continue to fight for social change.
I am thankful to our allies STEPS and SONKE for their amazing effort to make this happen. I would also like to extend a special thanks to the incredible video activists who attended the convening and will serve as the founding members of the network.
Photos courtesy of Bukeni Waruzi/WITNESS